Thomas Cusack-Smith

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Sir Thomas Berry Cusack-Smith PC (1795 – 13 August 1866)[1] was an Irish politician and judge. He was nicknamed "TBC Smith" or "Alphabet Smith".

Family and education[edit]

He was the younger son of Sir William Cusack-Smith, 2nd Baronet, Baron of the Exchequer and his wife Hester Berry, and grandson of Sir Michael Smith, 1st Baronet, Master of the Rolls in Ireland from 1801 to 1806. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He entered Lincoln's Inn in 1817 and was called to the Irish Bar in 1819.[2] He married Louisa Smith-Barry, of the well-known Smith-Barry family who owned Fota Island, Cork. They had one son, William and five daughters, Hester, Marianne, Anne, Caroline and Frances.[3]


He was appointed Solicitor-General for Ireland briefly in 1842, and then Attorney-General for Ireland from 1842 until 1846, in which role he prosecuted Daniel O'Connell.[4] His conduct of the trial attracted severe criticism, and the House of Lords later quashed the guilty verdict due to gross irregularities in the proceedings.[5] He was a Member of Parliament for Ripon from 1843 to 1846.[6] He became Master of the Rolls in Ireland in 1846, holding that office until his death, which occurred at Blairgowrie and Rattray in Scotland.[7]

Character and appearance[edit]

Like his father he had a reputation for eccentricity and bad temper: during the trial of Daniel O'Connell he challenged one of the opposing counsel, Gerald Fitzgibbon, to a duel, for having allegedly accused him of acting from "private and dishonourable motives". The judges, gravely embarrassed, strongly criticised Cusack-Smith for his actions and persuaded him to drop the matter.[8] His frequent outbursts of ill temper were often attributed to chronic indigestion. An admirer described him as having "a touch of genius" but admitted that he was rough and harsh in manner. Charles Gavan Duffy described him as "dignified" but so unhealthy and ghastly in appearance that he resembled "an owl in daylight".[9] Daniel O'Connell called him "the vinegar cruet".


  1. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "R" (part 1)
  2. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol. 2 p.356
  3. ^ Ball p.356
  4. ^ Ball p.357
  5. ^ Geoghegan, Patrick M.. Liberator- the life and death of Daniel O'Connell Gill and Macmillan Dublin 2010 pp.166-182
  6. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 255. ISBN 0-900178-26-4.
  7. ^ Ball p.357
  8. ^ Geoghegan pp.171-2
  9. ^ Geoghegan p.167


  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Pemberton Leigh
George Cockburn
Member of Parliament for Ripon
With: George Cockburn
Succeeded by
Edwin Lascelles
George Cockburn
Legal offices
Preceded by
Joseph Devonsher Jackson
Solicitor-General for Ireland
Sep-Nov 1842
Succeeded by
Richard Wilson Greene
Preceded by
Francis Blackburne
Attorney-General for Ireland
1842 – 1846
Succeeded by
Richard Wilson Greene
Preceded by
Francis Blackburne
Master of the Rolls in Ireland
Succeeded by
John Edward Walsh